An update to the financial scandal over at Olympus, which has quieted down quite a bit in recent days: former Chairman and President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa has been arrested with six other people (including three former executives) for “suspected violation of Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act”. As you might remember, Kikukawa replaced ex-CEO Michael Woodford after Woodford’s abrupt dismissal and stated that the move was because Woodford — who’s from the UK — didn’t fit into the company’s culture. Less than two weeks later, Kikukawa himself stepped down as the company found itself in an international financial fraud case.
A clearer picture is emerging of what the Fujifilm X-Pro1 will cost when it’s finally on store shelves. The camera is now available for preorder over on Amazon Japan for the price of ¥135,000 (~$1,743). This suggests that the US price will be in the range of $1,600-$1,700. The lenses will likely be in the range of $600-$700 each. A PDF version of the owner’s manual has also been released, and should be interesting to anyone who wants a closer look at how the camera works.
YouTube member MJRecession came up with the idea of placing a digital camera onto the conveyor belt a sushi restaurant in Japan to record candid portraits of the other patrons in the restaurant. It’d be interesting to see this same thing done at sushi bars around the world to see how different cultures would react.
Here’s an interesting behind-the-scenes mini-documentary showing Scott Schuman (AKA “The Sartorialist“) shooting his street fashion photographs in Tokyo, Japan. Unlike many street photographers, Schuman first approaches his subjects and asks for permission.
Mayuko Kanazawa of Tama Art University in Japan was recently given the assignment of creating a typeface without the aid of a computer. She decided to use a camera, but instead of doing a more ordinary alphabet photo project, she decided to photograph leg hair manipulated into different characters. Read more…
Olympus admitted today that its top executives used dubious acquisitions to sweep 20 years of massive losses under the carpet. At a press conference in Tokyo, new President Shuichi Takayama revealed that the 2008 acquisitions at the center of the company’s ongoing scandal were used to cover-up failed securities investments dating back to the early 1990s. Michael Woodford, the ex-CEO who brought the acquisitions to light, says that further inquiry is needed and that the company leadership needs to be purged:
This is a very big day. The big questions now are: who helped us – which outside companies? And what monies have they received? [...] The position of the board and non-execs is untenable now.
The news immediately crushed Olympus’ stock, causing it to drop 29% in one day. The company has lost 70% of its market value since the scandal began in mid-October and is now facing major consequences — including the possibility of getting delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has unveiled an amazing “Spherical Flying Machine”: a 42-inch remote controlled ball that can zip around in any direction at ~37mph. Built using off-the-shelf parts for about $1,400, in Internet is abuzz over the potential applications, which include military reconnaissance and search-and-rescue operations. What we’re most interested in, however, is the device’s potential as an aerial camera for things like sports photography and combat photojournalism. Read more…
Olympus fired CEO and President Michael Woodford today, causing the company’s stock price to take a 17% dive. The 51-year-old Briton was accused by the board of ignoring the management culture that the firm has had in place for 92 years. Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (who replaces Woodford) says,
We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do, but he was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture.
The “difficult things” included ambitious cost-cutting plans, which proved to be successful in the company’s European division. Woodford had a habit of ignoring the management structure of the company by giving direct orders to employees rather than the leadership of the different units. While Olympus is known in the consumer electronics industry for its digital cameras, it’s medical equipment that keeps the company afloat — the Olympus camera division lost 15 billion yen (~$195 million) in the year to March 2011.
Remember the tiny Chobi Cam One “DSLR” that was introduced in Japan at the beginning of the year? Well the camera has found a distributor in the US and is generating some media buzz again after being marketed as “the world’s smallest camera”. While it certainly isn’t the world’s smallest camera, you probably won’t find an interchangeable lens digital camera that’s smaller. You can buy the video-capable 2-megapixel camera over at Hammacher Schlemmer for $100, though it doesn’t appear to come with any additional lenses besides the kit lens.